POLICE were called after hounds from a Herefordshire hunt ran through a family garden and chased a pet cat.

William Ricks, who lives at Hope Mansell, has called for hunts to stop “riding roughshod over local residents” after hounds from the Ross Harriers entered his private garden.

The family, including 12-year-old John Kyrle High School pupil Anna, feared the worst when the hounds chased Minna, their Norwegian forest cat.

After hours of searching, the cat was found 30ft up a tree.

William said: “Whatever people think about hunting in principle, I feel very strongly that the hunt should be stopped from riding roughshod over local residents and allowing their hounds to enter residential gardens and terrorise domestic animals.”

Anna Ernsting, huntmaster of the Ross Harriers, told the Hereford Times the hounds did unexpectedly run into woods on November 17.

“We understand Mr Rick’s garden is not fenced and his cat presumably took the best possible action if it sensed danger, although, in our opinion, the hounds did not hunt or injure the cat.”

Days later

After receiving a card from Ms Ernsting on November 21 – in which she said “should we be in the area again we will let you know well in advance in case you may wish to keep your cat inside” – the Ricks hoped the ordeal was over.

But, William claims, just a few days later on November 24 the hounds were in the family’s woodland which is home to wild hare, deer and badgers.

Ms Ernsting said the dogs were this time returning from exercise when they came across a fresh scent and ran through an open gate into woods. She does not, however, believe it was the Ricks’ wood.

“The hounds are exercised regulary along this stretch of road and local residents will know that there has never been any problems with any pets or farm stock.” said Ms Ernsting.

“The Ross Harriers take every precaution to hunt within the law at all times and are very grateful to the landowners who permit us to cross their land.

“However we do appreciate that we are not welcome by all and do bear this in mind.

“The master huntsman states that this was the first time this has happened in the three years he has been in charge of the hounds.”

A spokesman for West Mercia Police confirmed that the force received a call to Hope Mansell on November 17 about hounds chasing a cat on private land and an officer advised the caller it was a civil issue.